Councillors have proposed significant changes to the Donegal county development plan in order to relax building restrictions in favour of developers.
A series of meetings began in Lifford last Monday after councillors called for a review of the plan which was adopted last August. A spokeswoman for the local branch of An Taisce said the proposals were "awful".
Monday's meeting between councillors and planners was held behind closed doors and the policy on urban housing was the main topic. The contentious holiday home issue is to be discussed in the coming weeks.
The existing urban housing policy stipulates that developers must demonstrate how housing developments contribute to the future infrastructure and services of a town or village.
A quota system is in place to protect villages from over-development.
"We talked about increasing the quota system," said one councillor. "The council will carry out a survey of each village to establish its housing capacity, then developers can be approached with a view to providing services such as water, sewerage, footpaths and roads."
Councillors are also proposing to relax restrictions on building houses in rural areas and, in addition, a "small builder policy" is being proposed.
Planners have been asked to insert a policy in the plan so that small builders will be allowed to build one-off houses and small housing schemes in rural areas.
It is also proposed to relax restrictions on "ribbon development" and to support "resource-related tourism product development" alongside holiday homes in rural areas.
© 2007 The Irish Times